Boxing has seen many fighters come in and out of the sport over the years. It’s the norm. There are those who have the role of being an opponent to make other fighters better, while collecting a payday for themselves. There are those boxers who build a local following and don’t quite reach star level, but make a living from boxing. You get those that reach a sort of star, middling-star level to where they can be recognized when they fight on a televised card. You get your true boxing stars, those who are in the upper echelon of competition and title contention. These guys usually get there by collecting a few belts and putting on great fights.
Then you get your bonafide superstars who are able to transcend beyond countries and coasts. You know who the superstars are because it essentially goes without saying for each generation. You have the likes of Floyd Mayweather, JR. and Manny Pacquiao who were the most recent to reach that status. Then you go back to the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Mike Tyson, and the list goes on as you move further back in history.
If you follow boxing, you know that both Mayweather, JR. and Pacquiao are pretty much at the end of their illustrious careers. There is always the question of who’s next in line. For my money, there is no better option than Anthony Joshua. If you don’t know Anthony Joshua then you’ve been missing out as a boxing fan. For starters, he fights in the oldest and most glorified boxing division, heavyweight. The list of heavyweight superstars that have graced us boxing fans with their presence over the years is far too long to divulge into with just one article. Boxing fans know that when you have a great heavyweight champion, it’s the ultimate representation of sports dominance for your country. It also elevates the sport and fan interest like no other division.
Joshua is essentially a heavyweight that looks as though he was sculpted from stone. He stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 230+ pounds. If anyone ever dreamt of what a heavyweight should look like, he fits the billing. He won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic games fighting in the super heavyweight division. Since his professional career began in 2013, he’s gone a perfect 18-0, 18 KO’s. Joshua not only wins, he has knocked out all of his opponents along the way. In an age where fighters remain prospects well into the 20+ fight range, Joshua was able to capture the International Boxing Federation (IBF) in his 16th fight when he defeated the then undefeated American champion, Charles Martin via second round knockout. Joshua has an excellent combination of power and skill. What’s even more stunning is the fact that he continues to get better as he progresses in his career.
On April 29, 2017, Anthony Joshua takes on his stiffest test yet when he puts his IBF title on the line against former heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko, 64-4, 53 KO’s. The vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) is up for grabs as well. This is without a doubt a major step-up in competition for Joshua but I, along with many others, believe this will be his ‘coming out’ party. There seems to be a changing of the guard. Klitschko didn’t look favorable in his last fight when he lost to Tyson Fury, his first loss since 2004. He seemed reluctant to throw his powerful right hand in this fight, which wasn’t one for the ages in the action department. Since that fight, Tyson Fury’s future is in jeopardy and this may very well be Klitschko’s final stand when he takes on Joshua.
There are several new faces at heavyweight that have brought back an interest like we haven’t seen since the early 2000s. For my money, Joshua is at the forefront and has the personality and looks to transcend beyond boxing. At this point, he’s the ultimate ‘face’ to take over from “Money” Mayweather’s ‘heel’ persona. One of the more interesting fights in boxing that I believe will launch him to superstar status will be a fight against undefeated American, Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder, the reigning World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight champion. The winner of a fight between the two would undoubtedly be considered the best heavyweight in the division.
Anthony Joshua has the appeal that will certainly take him to the next level. His personality is grand and if he keeps winning, especially by knockout, more and more people will jump aboard the bandwagon. He’s already a big deal in the U.K., and based on announcements from his promoter, he’s about to get his grand introduction to the U.S. This will only make things grander. When it’s all said, and done, will Joshua be viewed in the regard as some of the dominant, action first heavyweights that have captured the hearts of the fans? Only time will tell. At the very least, he will be the heavyweight on lips of boxing fans throughout 2017. The rest of the story is to be written.Contact the Feature Writers